(SNO) — This week Saint Lucia joined with nations around the world in observing the 4th annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
As part of the celebrations, the Department of Sustainable Development compiled a publication celebrating the achievements of Saint Lucian women in science, thereby affording increased recognition of outstanding nationals in the scientific and technological arena.
The said publication, “Saint Lucian Women In Science”, documents and promotes public awareness of the contribution, and often pioneering efforts of Saint Lucian women in various science-based and technological disciplines and professions.
As a means of contributing to the global momentum of striving for gender parity, the Department of Sustainable Development is hoping that this publication can translate into a mentorship programme for girls interested in pursuing science careers through collective action and shared responsibility.
“Saint Lucian Women in Science” was compiled in response to a message to the nation for International Women’s Day 2017, by Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, Dr. Gale T.C. Rigobert.
In that message, she expressed the government of Saint Lucia’s commitment to closing gender parity gaps and keeping women’s and gender issues at the top of its development agenda. She had issued a call to confront “bias and inequalities” and “be bold for change” by implementing policies and legislation that challenge stereotypes and discrimination.
She also challenged Saint Lucians to champion women’s advancement by recognizing their achievements and promoting these women as role models, in order to encourage more women and girls to pursue studies and more lucrative careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
International Day of Women and Girls in Science is observed every year on February 11 around the world.
This year’s theme was “Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth”.
According to the United Nations (UN), research data for the years 2014 to 2016 published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) indicates that only 30% of all female students select science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in higher education.
UNESCO’s data further indicates that female students’ enrolment in STEM-related fields is particularly low in information, communications and technology (3%), natural sciences, mathematics and statistics (5%) and in engineering, manufacturing and construction (8%).
The UN suggests the reason for such under-participation could stem from long-standing biases and gender stereotypes that are steering girls and women away from science-related fields.